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Plenary Sessions

We are excited to announce that the 2021 NENHC will have two plenary presentations. Details will be listed here as confirmed:

Plenary #1 (hosted by AFO): 2 to 3:25 pm, Friday, April 16

Leaping to Conclusions: Courtship and Mating System of a Neotropical Bird

with Regina Macedo, Laboratório de Comportamento Animal, Universidade de Brasilia

It is a well-known fact that sexual selection is responsible for the development of elaborate courtship behaviors and extravagant ornamentation in polygynous bird species. However, in socially monogamous species we also often observe such ornamentation and showy behaviors. We can speculate that these result from competition, usually among males, to attract mating partners and achieve higher reproductive success. For the last two decades, many of the studies in Regina's lab have used a Neotropical bird, Volatinia jacarina (Blue-black Grassquit), to answer questions about the development of showy plumage and courtship characteristics. Initially thought to be a lekking species, those studieshave shown that the Blue-black Grassquit is socially monogamous, but that sexual selection has shaped male phenotype and courtship repertoire. In this talk Regina will explore natural selection, in the form of predation and habitat characteristics, has influenced the evolution of courtship and parental behavior in this species. She will also discuss how sexual selection, in the form of female choice, has molded male behavior. Her research has shown that the primary male courtship signal, the energetically costly leaping behavior, can be flexibly adjusted by individual males in different contexts, reflecting physical constraints, individual quality, risk of predation, and phase of the reproductive cycle.

Regina H. Macedo obtained a B.S. in Biology (1983) at Universidade de Brasilia, a M.Sc. in Zoology (1986) and a Ph.D. in Zoology (1991) at the University of Oklahoma. She has been a Professor at Universidade de Brasilia since 1993, where she established the Animal Behavior Lab and and created academic courses in Ornithology and Animal Behavior. The focus of her research has been on the evolution of social behavior and the operation of natural and sexual selection in shaping mating systems of Neotropical birds. She has published over 100 research articles and edited several books that focus on the Neotropical fauna. During her career she mentored 51 graduate students, many of whom are now established in Brazilian research institutions. Her service contributions to the academic and scientific communities include acting as President of the Animal Behavior Society, hosting an Animal Behavior Meeting in Brazil, and helping to organize other international meetings in her country, including the Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology and the International Ethological Conference. She served as Editor for Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia (former Ararajuba), Guest Editor for a Special Issue in Animal Behaviour, Associate Editor for Behavioral Ecology, Frontiers in Zoology and Emu-Austral Ornithology, and provided the technical revision for a Portuguese translation of John Alcock´s textbook, Animal Behavior (9th edition). She was named an Elective Member (2007), Fellow (2009) and Honorary Fellow (2012) of the American Ornithologists´ Union, a Fellow of the International Ornithologists´ Union (2010) and a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society (2019). In 2020 she was awarded the William Brewster Memorial Award from the American Ornithologists´ Union.



Plenary #2 (hosted by WOS): 2 to 3:25 pm, Saturday, April 17

Long-term Research on an Ordinary Extraordinary Songbird: The Dark-eyed Junco

with Ellen Ketterson, Distinguished Professor in the Biology Department and Science Advisor and Founding Director of the Environmental Resilience Institute, Indiana University

This talk will focus on bird migration and response to environmental change. The subject will be Junco hyemalis (Dark-eyed Junco), an abundant north-temperate sparrow that has diversified rapidly since the last glacial maximum. The bird has been the subject of classic research on speciation and phenology. Ellen will address how juncos process environmental cues such as day length to time their migration and reproduction, and how timing relates to larger topics in population divergence, urban ecology, mate choice, and organismal biology.

Ellen attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where she earned all her university degrees. As a PhD student in the early 1970s, she studied ecology under Val Nolan Jr. and pursued post-doctoral research in eco-physiology with James R. King at Washington State University. After a short stint as Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Ellen returned to Indiana University where she has been on the faculty ever since. The common theme in all of Ellen's research has been organismal biology in relation to ecology, evolution, and behavior. For Ellen, it is essential to study birds in the wild…. to follow where the bird leads…… and to conduct research in collaboration with others who make the research better and add to the pleasure of discovery.

Ellen Ketterson


Keynote #3: 2 to 4 pm, Sunday, April 18th

Black Birders: Exploring Wild Places and Confronting White Spaces in Ornithology

Description: Despite remaining systemic barriers to participation in ornithological societies and potentially dangerous interactions with people in the places where birds are studied, Black ornithologists, birders, and other nature enthusiasts persevere, and thrive. While their contributions to science, education, and conservation are many, the enduring impact of their pioneering careers and their courage to speak on the challenges they face in predominantly white spaces is transformative and inestimable. In this special session sponsored by the Wilson Ornithological Society, 4 young Black scholars will speak a bit about their work and the spaces they’ve carved out to do it.

This event will feature the 4 following talks, with ample time for a panel discussion period at the end.

Contact: For more information, contact Tim O'Connell at tim.oconnell@okstate.edu

Talk #1: Geographies of Wilderness and Race: Blackness in the Field of Conservation Ecology

with Jonathan Hall, conservation ecologist who directs the Wilderness Geography Lab at West Virginia University where he studies California Condors and wild food geographies

Conservation ecology sits at the center of confronting and solving many of the environmental problems facing humanity in the past, present, and future. While the knowledge gained in the field has proven invaluable for saving species from extinction, raising awareness among the general population, and advancing the science of ecology, there remains a persistent and conspicuous lack of racial diversity among recognized experts. In the United States, there has never been more than 10 PhDs in ecology earned by Black people in a given year. Likewise, faculty and student participation has remained in the single digits percent for decades despite efforts to broaden participation among racially minoritized people. In this presentation, I will explore the roots of this problem through my own experiences as a young person, student in higher education, and faculty member. My career spans multiple fields including biology, ecology, conservation, and geography, and I have gained valuable insight into ways those interested and within these fields might aid in disrupting the stubborn racial homogeneity of conservation work.

Dr. Jonathan Hall is a conservation ecologist who directs the Wilderness Geography Lab at West Virginia University where he studies California condors and wild food geographies. He is a graduate of Morehouse College, where he earned a B.S. in Biology and The Ohio State University, where he earned a PhD in ecology. Jonathan’s research practice sits at the intersection of science and social science where he explores environmental problems through the lenses of ecology, Black geographies, and Indigenous geographies.

Jonathan Hall

Talk #2: Title TBA

with Deja Perkins, urban ecologist and the Community Engagement Specialist for Crowd the Tap and the Citizen Science Campus Program at North Carolina State University

Description TBA.

Deja Perkins is and urban ecologist and the Community Engagement Specialist for Crowd the Tap and the Citizen Science Campus Program at North Carolina State University. She co-hosts the weekly webinar Make it Count Monday that explores multiple citizen science projects with NC State’s partner, SciStarter. Originally from Chicago, IL, Deja holds a B.S. in Environmental Science, Natural Resources and Plant Sciences with a Wildlife Concentration from Tuskegee University, and a M.Sc. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from NC State. A founder of #BlackBirdersWeek that ultimately gave rise to this special session, Deja is passionate about identifying systemic biases in access to wild places and in the citizen science data they generate.

Deja Perkins

Talk #3: Title TBA

with Juita Martinez, 4th year environmental and evolutionary biology Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Description TBA.

Juita Martinez is a 4th year environmental and evolutionary biology Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She graduated from Humboldt State University in 2016 (B.S. Zoology). Her current research focuses on Louisiana’s Brown Pelican population, better known as #DinosaurFloofs on her social media pages. Coastal Louisiana has been at the forefront of restoration activity since the 1990s and she aims to better understand the impacts of these human-caused habitat changes on the wildlife that utilize these spaces.

Juita Martinez

Talk #4: Illegal Trade on Bird Body Parts and Implications for Avian Conservation in a Tropical Rainforest Zone

with Fidel Atuo, Assistant Professor in Biology at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO

Description TBA.

Dr. Fidel Atuo is an Assistant Professor in Biology at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO. His research focuses on the conservation of globally rare species. Originally from Nigeria, Fidel earned his B.S. in Zoology from the University of Calabar and M.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Jos. His journey into North American ornithology began with an internship at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. For his Ph.D. research at Oklahoma State University (2017), Fidel studied the role of landscape structure on predator-prey interactions. As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fidel studied habitat use of California Spotted Owls.

Fidel atuo

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